Discover the momentous motoring events that took place this week in motoring history …….
110 years ago this week, the Harrison Wagon Works of Grand Rapids, Michigan, manufacturers of the Harrison that was equipped with an unsuccessful attempt at the first self-starter, was declared bankrupt [17 January 1908]…….The first production Lancia, the 12HP Alpha was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show [18 January 1908]. Originally, it bore the name “type 51” but for marketing reasons it was changed to Alpha, the name of the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It was available as a straight chassis and bodied in a variety of styles from closed landaulets (limousine-style) to sporting two-seater Corsas. Only about 100 models were made, but there were also some especially made for racing. The first Lancia cars were famed for their lightness and efficient engineering……. 100 years ago this week,
Emil Jellinek (64), whose daughter was the “Mercedes” in Mercedes-Benz, died in Geneva, Switzerland [21 January 1918]……. 80 years ago this week, the 20,000th Volkswagen was produced [15 January 1938]……on the following day [16 January 1938].Ford introduced its post-war line-up of light, medium and heavy trucks called the F-Series range from F-1 (1/2 ton) to F-8 (3-ton), as a replacement for the previous car-based pickup line introduced in 1941. In a break from previous Ford trucks, the F-Series was no longer based upon its car chassis, but on a dedicated truck platform. This generation of the F-Series would remain in production until 1952. F-Series trucks were assembled at sixteen different Ford factories.With its modern design, “Million Dollar” cab and ten-year life expectancy, they quickly became a best seller. Engine choices comprised a 95 hp 3.7 litre inline-six, a 100 hp 3.9 litre V8, and a 5.5-litre V8 with 145 hp. The least-powerful engine in a 2013 Ford F-150 is a 3.7 litre V6 with 302 hp. Only the two-ton and larger trucks had power brakes.Options included the “See-Clear” windshield washer (operated by foot plunger), passenger-side windshield wiper & sun visor, and passenger-side taillight. The F-1 truck was also available with additional chrome trim and two horns as an option. All F-series were available with optional “Marmon-Herrington All Wheel Drive” until 1959.The hugely popular F-Series pickup has outsold the Model T and VW Beetle to become the best-selling vehicle nameplate in history……. The Juan Perón & Buenos Aires Grand Prix held at Palermo Park was won by Luigi Villoresi driving a Maserati 4CL [17 January 1938]……..General Motors began mass production of diesel engines [19 January 1938]……. 70 years ago this week, the Ford Motor Company created the Lincoln-Edsel-Mercury Division, hiring former Packard President James J Nance as Vice President in charge of the Division [15 January 1948]…………..Ford introduced its post-war line-up of light, medium and heavy trucks called the F-Series range from F-1 (1/2 ton) to F-8 (3-ton), as a replacement for the previous car-based pickup line introduced in 1941 [16 January 1948]. In a break from previous Ford trucks, the F-Series was no longer based upon its car chassis, but on a dedicated truck platform. This generation of the F-Series would remain in production until 1952. F-Series trucks were assembled at sixteen different Ford factories.With its modern design, “Million Dollar” cab and ten-year life expectancy, they quickly became a best seller. Engine choices comprised a 95 hp 3.7 litre inline-six, a 100 hp 3.9 litre V8, and a 5.5-litre V8 with 145 hp. The least-powerful engine in a 2013 Ford F-150 is a 3.7 litre V6 with 302 hp. Only the two-ton and larger trucks had power brakes.Options included the “See-Clear” windshield washer (operated by foot plunger), passenger-side windshield wiper & sun visor, and passenger-side taillight. The F-1 truck was also available with additional chrome trim and two horns as an option. All F-series were available with optional “Marmon-Herrington All Wheel Drive” until 1959.The hugely popular F-Series pickup has outsold the Model T and VW Beetle to become the best-selling vehicle nameplate in history……. 60 years ago this week, the first of just eight Scarab sports car, the brain-child of Lance Reventlow − whose father was a European count, whose mother was heiress to the Woolworth fortune, and whose wife at the time was Jill St John – was tested. [16 January 1948]. Four were astounding successes and four were spectacular failures. A 301-cubic-inch (8-litre) overbored version of Chevrolet’s small block 283 V-8 was married to a Corvette four-speed gearbox. This powertrain was mounted in a light 127 lb space frame chassis wrapped with an aluminium skin to the configuration. Early testing showed the efficacy of the tapered-shim adjustable de Dion rear suspension, a clever innovation by Dick Troutman. Engine stroke was quickly increased to enlarge displacement to 339 cubic inches. Alas, between creation of the Scarab concept and reality, the European
sports car rules were changed to permit engines only up to 183 cubic inches (3.0 litres). An Offy engine was tried in the third Scarab − but with the dismal results Briggs Cunningham suffered when he tried the same thing in his C6R Le Mans car. Said Scarab development engineer Chuck Daigh of the Offy: “It was 100 pounds heavier than the Chevy and had 100 horsepower less.” So the Chevy went into this car too − and in 1958 the Scarabs went racing, but only in the U.S., Daigh and Reventlow driving. No car was more successful in SCCA B-Modified during this period. Scarab sports-racers remained competitive well into the 1960s, long after Reventlow had retired from the scene. The cars were victors twice: over the best that Europe had to offer during the front-engined era and then again when the “technically superior” European rear-engined cars came on the scene – that’s impressive! …… 50 years ago this week, British Motor Corporation and Leyland announced that they would merge to form the British Leyland Corporation [17 January 1968]. It was partly nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland, later BL, in 1978. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China’s SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, Mini, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart, continue to operate independently……on the same day [17 January 1968] Ford officially unveiled ‘The new Escort: the small car that isn’t’. It was initially available as a two-door saloon with 1,098-cc or 1,298-cc engines. A Deluxe cost £635 9s 7d, which included purchase tax and delivery. A-high performance twin-cam model, costing £1,123, was also unveiled. The Escort replaced the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk…….The crowd’s expectation for the 1958 Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina was to see local hero Juan Manuel Fangio demolish the gringo opposition, as the man from Balcarce had done so often in the past [19 January 1958]. However, victory went to one of his former teams-mates in a car that the incredulous Argentine public attending the race would only describe as ‘the thing’. The season-opener in Buenos Aires saw a rather tiny grid of just ten cars lining up for the 1958 Argentine GP. A number of teams dreaded the long trip to South America because the introduction of Avgas as the only allowed fuel by regulation had caused serious problems on some engines. Among those refusing to face the long and costly trip, fearing engine failure as the outcome, was the Vanwall works-team, so Stirling Moss made a one-off arrangement with Rob Walker to drive one of his Cooper Climax. What looked like a silly idea at first, the literally powerful opposition of Ferrari and Maserati lapping two seconds quicker in qualifying, dropping Moss down to 7th on the grid, would pay out in the end. Pole-sitter and local hero Juan Manuel Fangio led from the start with Moss already in 5th by the end of the first lap. The expected heat was causing all sorts of problems for the heavier and more powerful cars upfront and their drivers were forced to pit for new tires and to catch a drink. Moss and Walker had discussed a different strategy. Not only needed they to recover the lack of pace to the leaders, a pit stop to change tires would take far too long due to the Cooper’s four studded cast alloy wheels. So the Brit simply kept an eye on his tires, treating them gently and as the race progressed, the Cooper’s lightweight chassis helped to limit tire wear. While the front-runners went into the pits for their scheduled stops Stirling simply kept going. He moved into the lead, was way ahead of the opposition and crossed the line first in his tiny Cooper-Climax as the first driver ever to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix at the wheel of a rear engined car…. Ray Harroum (89), winner of the first Indianapolis 500, died in
Anderson, Illinois, US [19 January 1968]. Nicknamed the “Little Professor” for his pioneering work of creating the Marmon Wasp, which was a revolutionary design being the first open-wheel single-seater racecar, he is known to have started at least 60 AAA-sanctioned races, during the years 1905–1911. At the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, his used what would now be called a rear-view mirror, rather than the riding mechanic specified in the rules, created controversy, but was ultimately allowed……. Three weeks after winning the South African Formula 1 Grand Prix, Jim Clark debuted the new red and white Golden Leaf Team Lotus livery with golden linings at the 3rd round of the 1968 Tasman series by clinching the Lady Wigram Trophy in New Zealand [20 January 1968]. Contrary to some reports Lotus wasn’t the first team to introduce non-automotive sponsorship. The first ever full sponsorship livery shown to the public on a race car at an international motor racing event had already appeared at the South African Grand Prix, courtesy of Team Gunston……. Overcoming a blown tyre and a resultant long pit stop, Dan Gurney won the NASCAR Grand National Motor Trend 500 at Riverside International Raceway for the fifth time [21 January 1968]. Gurney took the lead for good on the 160th lap, going on to take the Wood Brothers Ford under the checkered flag 36 seconds ahead of David Pearson. Parnelli Jones, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough rounded out a Ford top five sweep. Gurney led Jones by 52 seconds when a rear tyre blew on lap 145. The pit stop took 1 minute, 25 seconds when chunks of rubber had to be removed from around the rear axle. Gurney re-entered the race in third, but it only took him 15 laps to regain the lead. A new safety device made it’s first appearance as a number of cars carried a screen over the driver’s side window. Gurney drove #121, marking the last time that a car with a three digit number won a NASCAR GN race…… 40 years ago this week, Emerson Fittipaldi lined up his Copersucar-Fittipaldi F5A on the grid for the 1978 Argentine Grand Prix – his 100th Formula 1 Grand Prix start [15 January 1978]. Mario Andretti took pole in his Lotus, with Carlos Reutemann’s Ferrari joining him on the front row and Ronnie Peterson in the other Lotus third on the grid. The start was uneventful, with Andretti and Reutemann easily keeping first and second, with John Watson in the Brabham taking third from Peterson. Watson took second from Reutemann on the seventh lap, but Andretti was uncatchable. Reutemann ran third for a while, but then began to drop down the order, and so reigning world champion Niki Lauda took third in his Brabham, which became second with ten laps left when Watson’s engine blew up. Andretti motored on to a crushing victory, with Lauda second and Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell taking the final spot on the podium…….The Ford Ecoline Super Wagon and Super Van were introduced [16 January 1978]…..Round 1 of the FIA Cup for Rally Drivers, the 46th Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo (29 stages, 570 km) began. It was won a week later by Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Vincent Laverne in a Porsche 911 Carrera [21 January 1978]…….30 years ago this week, Edsel B Ford II and William Clay Ford Jnr, great grandsons of Henry Ford, were elected to the Board of Directors of the Ford Motor Company [15 January 1988]……The 56th Monte Carlo Rally, Round 1 of the World Rally Championship started and was won 5 days later by Bruno Saby and Dean-Franbois Fauchille in a Lancia [16 January 1988]…… 20 years ago this week, Jean-Martin Folz unveiled the new organization of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group, illustrated by the slogan “two marques, one group” [21 January 1998]…… 10 years ago this week, the first Smart ED, a Fortwo modified for operation by Zytek Electric Vehicles as a battery electric vehicle, was delivered to Coventry City Council in the West Midlands, England [16 January 2008].
Short in length, powered by a rear-mounted engine, the two-passenger urban vehicle ran on 13.2 kWh of sodium-nickel chloride Zebra batteries. The Smart EV was capable of 0–30 mph in just 6.5 seconds and could travel 70 miles between charges……. Former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle Ernie Holmes (59) died in a one-car accident [17 January 2008]. Holmes was driving alone when his car left the road and rolled several times near Beaumont, Texas. He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car……… the following day [18 January 2008] four photographers were arrested for reckless driving after they chased American pop star Britney Spears’ car on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Each of the men, part of a group of paparazzi seen driving at high speed, was ordered to post $5,000 (£2,539) bail. According to police, the cars were following Ms Spears’ car too closely and travelling at an unsafe speed, making several unsafe lane changes…. Meanwhile on the same day [18 January 2008], Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new 2009 Venza crossover sedan at a press conference at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Venza raised the crossover vehicle to new levels by combining a unique blend of sedan refinement and sport utility vehicle (SUV) functionality.